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Artificial Life

Winter 2012, Vol. 18, No. 1, Pages 27-51
(doi: 10.1162/artl_a_00048)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Optimal Seeding of Self-Reproducing Systems
Article PDF (343.33 KB)

This article is motivated by the need to minimize the number of elements required to establish a self-reproducing system. One such system is a self-reproducing extraterrestrial robotic colony, which reduces the launch payload mass for space exploration compared to current mission configurations. In this work, self-reproduction is achieved by the actions of a robot on available resources. An important consideration for the establishment of any self-reproducing system is the identification of a seed, for instance, a set of resources and a set of robots that utilize them to produce all of the robots in the colony. This article outlines a novel algorithm to determine an optimal seed for self-reproducing systems, with application to a self-reproducing extraterrestrial robotic colony. Optimality is understood as the minimization of a cost function of the resources and, in this article, the robots. Since artificial self-reproduction is currently an open problem, the algorithm is illustrated with a simple robotic self-replicating system from the literature and with a more complicated self-reproducing example from nature.